Healthcare professionals who want to enjoy the highest level of responsibility and salaries that nursing has to offer often decide to earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). This is a terminal doctoral degree in nursing that takes four to six years to earn. Earning this highly coveted degree indicates that you have mastered the most advanced clinical, administrative and managerial aspects of the nursing field.
Why a DNP Degree?
Nurses with a DNP degree are prepared for advanced clinical practice, leadership positions, management of health care delivery and to provide strong influence to health policy. DNP education also gives nurses the skills they need to meet the many challenges of the modern healthcare system.
A DNP degree differs from a PhD in that the DNP prepares you for advanced clinical practice and application of research in the clinical area. A PhD is designed for a nurse scientists and researchers.
Nurses who earn their doctoral degree will be in very high demand for the next decade or more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the US population is aging, there is wider availability of health insurance, and there also is much more of a focus on preventative care.
This greatly increases the demand for all types of nursing services – a 16% increase in demand for nurses generally is anticipated. This demand should be even higher for the most highly educated nurses with a master’s and doctoral degree in nursing.
This increase in demand is certain for all advanced nursing practice specialities, all of which are open to nurses with a DNP degree:
- Nurse practitioner
- Certified nurse midwife
- Certified nurse anesthetist
- Clinical nurse specialist
- Nurse educator/administrator
These advanced nursing positions are the highest-paying occupations in the nursing field, and they are granted a great deal of respect in the medical profession.
If your goal is to become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), you should note this other very important reason for obtaining your DNP: The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in 2004 endorsed the Position Statement on the Practice Doctorate in Nursing. AACN members voted to recommend that the DNP degree be the required degree to become an APRN by 2015.
As of 2016, many employers still are not differentiating between a nursing professional with a master’s degree or a DNP for many APRN positions. However, you can be assured that this will be changing in the next few years. Soon, a DNP degree will be the requirement to become a nurse practitioner and most other advanced nurse practice roles.
Interesting DNP Facts and Statistics
- 246 DNP programs across the country currently are enrolling nursing students.
- 60 more DNP programs are being planned.
- DNP programs are available in 48 states and Washington DC.
- States with the most DNP programs are FL, IL, MA, MN, OH, NY, PA and TX.
- From 2013-2014, the number of DNP students enrolled rose from 14,688 to 18,352.
Licensing and Certification
After you earn your DNP and want to move into an APRN role, you will need to pass the national certification examination for that role.
Online and Campus-Based DNP Options
The advanced Internet technologies of the 21st century mean that you do not necessarily have to attend your DNP program in person. There are a number of accredited, online DNP programs for healthcare professionals with multiple obligations. For most of your classwork, you have the option of completing your studies from your own home.
Chamberlain College DNP Program
One online DNP program to consider is the one at Chamberlain College where you can earn your DNP in three or four years full time. This program is designed for RNs as well as current APRNs who want to take their education to the highest possible level.
Some students can earn their DNP in as few as two years, and the practicum can be completed at any location of your choice that meets program qualifications.
Required courses include:
- Scientific Underpinnings
- Application of Analytic Methods
- Applied Organizational and Leadership Concepts
- Concepts in Population Health Outcomes
- Health Policy
- Healthcare Informatics and Information Systems
- DNP Practicum I-IV
Duke University DNP Program
Another excellent option to earn your online DNP degree is from Duke University School of Nursing. In addition to completing most of your classes online, this program allows you to generally do your DNP project at your current employer.
Courses in this three year program are:
- Quantitative Methods
- Evidence Based Practice I and II
- Date Driven Health Care Improvements
- Transformation of Health Care Systems
- Effective Leadership
DNP Career Options
While many DNP degree holders opt to become a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife or nurse anesthetist, there are other career options available to you:
- General medical hospitals: You can play a major executive and/or managerial role to influence effective treatment plans for patients. Many DNP nurses conduct vital research that generate new, more effective policies for enhanced healthcare in hospitals.
- Public health: Many DNP nurses are public health experts, and exert great influence in state and federal public health initiatives. You can be a large influence on legislators and health officials across the country.
- Research organizations: You can spend a very productive and exciting career performing nursing research to help medical professionals devise better ways to care for patients.
Some of the possible job titles you possibly could pursue with your DNP include:
- Chief nursing officer
- Nurse administrator
- Director of public health policy
- Clinical research director
- RN director
- Professor of clinical research
- Director of government policy
Earning your DNP degree is a highly desirable way to make your way to the upper echelon of the nursing profession.